When it comes to sales and marketing in our industry, I bump up against two extremes more often than not. Some companies invest in sales teams, but don’t do much in the way of marketing to pave the way for them or support them along the journey. On the flip side are other firms that employ only marketing to create a presence in the marketplace and perhaps generate some sales leads… only to have a reticent and untrained seller-doer not take the necessary actions to build relationships with buyers and acquire clients. The reality is this… for you to successfully grow your business, you need both sales and marketing.
Think about the phases in the buying-selling process…
Phase 1 – Reputation (i.e., what you want to be known for). For the marketplace to know what you do, who you work with, what problems you solve and what makes you unique, you need marketing. And it’s not just that marketing can do this… marketing can do this at scale, with things like content creation, social media marketing, advertising and so on.
Phase 2 – Awareness. Both sales and marketing support this. Sales reps/seller-doers build and maintain awareness with buyers and potential buyers through emails, phone and zoom calls, social media, networking at conferences and so on. Marketing (again, at scale) supports this by managing the firm’s website, social posts, monthly newsletters, advertising, SEO and so on.
Phase 3A– Lead generation. Like awareness above, both sales and marketing are involved here. Sales generates leads with cold calling, social selling and networking. Marketing brings leads to the table with gated content (i.e., e-books, webinars, etc.), lead-generating ads and driving people to the website.
Phase 3B – Lead follow-up. For leads that are generated by marketing, both sales and marketing can be responsible for follow-up (i.e., that first touchpoint after the lead comes in). Sales can reach out by phone, do some ‘triage’ and ask questions to qualify the lead. Marketing can do follow-up using an automated response sequence – a series of preplanned emails that share information and help to a qualify the sales lead.
Phase 4 – Lead nurturing (i.e., staying in touch with prospective buyers until they’re ready to engage in a project with you). Again… shared responsibilities. Sales can stay top-of-mind with potential buyers through check-in emails and phone calls, sharing relevant resources, etc. Marketing – while not nurturing specific leads – stays top-of-mind with all potential buyers through social media posts, email marketing, advertising and so on.
Phase 5 – Acquiring first-time clients. While primarily a sales function, this can be enhanced with added support from marketing. The sales rep or seller-does will be the one delivering a capabilities presentation and putting together a proposal to try to win the business. Marketing can support sales with tools like case studies, white papers and sales collateral.
Phase 6 – Ensuring repeat clients. This is really a 3-function responsibility. Sales and marketing… and, of course, operations. If the operations team doesn’t do a good job on the project, the client will not come back. So, assuming the project goes well, both sales and marketing share responsibility here. Sales maintains client relationships and top-of-mind awareness with phone and zoom calls, 1-to-1 emails, sharing resources and doing the more personal things (like in-person visits, giving ‘thank you’ gifts after projects and sending birthday cards). Marketing keeps you top-of-mind with clients using social media posts, email marketing, advertising and so on.
Bottom line: Sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin… the growth coin. And both are needed to support each other in an effort to maximize your investment in trying to grow revenue. You can have limited success with sales OR marketing… but with sales AND marketing, it really is a case of 1+1=3!